Meet the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards 2017 Employer Finalists

30 of Worcestershire’s best apprentices, employers, training providers and schools have been announced as finalists at the fully booked Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards 2017.

Awards finalists, businesses and guests will attend the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards at 6:30pm, on Thursday 16 November at the Tree Tops Pavilion, West Midland Safari Park, where the winners of each category will be announced. The ceremony is set to attract a record audience of 350 people and will be presented by one of the UK’s leading live comedians, Mark Watson.

A total of twelve awards will be given out to this year’s winners at the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards. As well as awards that recognise the apprentices and their supporting organisations, four of the categories to be awarded celebrate those who employ apprentices. These are:

Finalists of Newcomer Apprenticeship Employer of the Year – Sponsored by The Community Housing Group

AW Digital
AW Digital is a small IT company with fewer than 10 employees. They provide Technical Service Desk support for 200+ retail stores across the UK. Recently their biggest customer renewed their service agreement which immediately placed greater demands on the capacity of their current team. Instead of following the easy option to recruit potential staff full of existing skills and experience, they decided to use this as a chance to open up some opportunities to young aspiring minds wishing to qualify while they earned a living. AW Digital ensure that these apprentices feel they are an integral part of the business by making sure they are given meaningful and engaging work to do. Existing staff are constantly supporting the apprentices with their ongoing development. AW Digital believe that, as their business develops, they plan to build and invest in their apprenticeship programme to ensure they are producing more local talent.

Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel
When any hotel changes hands there is always the chance that the change in ownership could have a negative impact on the staff, their progression and future development opportunities. However, this is far from the case when Hogarths took over the running of the Stone Manor site in February 2016. Hogarths’ Apprentices are very much involved in all aspects of the full operation and continued growth of the hotel.  Apprentices are seen as key to developing employees and growing the business, with 7 apprentices across a range of hospitality roles. The hotel’s apprenticeship programme has supported the hotel’s internal training and implementation of higher standards.  Service standards have now improved and two apprentices have been promoted as result of their personal development.  The hotel is now very busy and sales have increased.

Ping Marketing
Ping Marketing has gone above and beyond, giving their apprentice a wide range of technical skills covering digital marketing. Investing in the apprenticeship scheme has made a huge difference to the business.  Employing an apprentice has helped them move the business forward more quickly than they could have hoped and also means they have been able to undertake additional work which may have in the past been outsourced. Ping Marketing are very committed to the future of young people and how they benefit from the apprenticeship programmes on offer.  Even though Ping currently has a small team, they are looking to expand through the recruitment of apprentices.  Ping one day hopes to have a team of apprentices and hope that they enjoy their experience with the organisation enough to stay with the company within a permanent role.

Finalists of Small Apprenticeship Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

Bradley Haynes Law
When Bradley Haynes Law opened their doors in 2014, they quickly realised that offering apprenticeships meant that they could employ people who showed promise but were not always able to establish their career following the traditional career pathways.  They feel they have experienced definite advantages in employing apprentices who can study the theoretical aspects of the job at college as well as the practical aspects of the job within the workplace. This is most definitely not an easy route into the profession and to qualify as a solicitor in this way can take up to 6 years. They are proud to now employ three legal apprentices who are well on their way to achieving their level 3 diploma in Administrating Legal Services.  They have also hired apprentices in accountancy and IT who have gone onto full time employment within the business.

Buzz Electrical Ltd
Buzz Electrical Ltd have been taking on and developing apprentices for over 10 years and are passionate about employing new apprentices year after year. They believe this goes a long way towards creating and maintaining a first class and dedicated team of individuals who are the key to the success of the organisation.  Their apprenticeship programme is embedded in the culture of the business and has been designed to prepare enthusiastic, customer focused individuals who have practical and problem solving skills and have a great attitude.  They are always keen to train up new recruits and are looking to continue to “Grow their own” talent within the business, seeing this as a successful way to secure a future workforce where there is currently a vast skills shortage.

Green Lighting Ltd
Green Lighting Ltd celebrates and encourages their apprentices and empowers them with opportunities to progress within the business. Their strategy is one of quality, loyalty and progression for the entire team. Green Lighting’s apprentices are viewed as an integral part of the firm, valued in their own right. Green Lighting feel they have grown their company through their apprenticeship programme as it has enabled them to recruit new staff in a cost effective manner. Green Lighting produced the Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year in 2014 and achieved finalist status within the small business category at the 2015 Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards.

Finalists of Medium Apprenticeship Employer of the Year – Sponsored by The Development Manager Ltd (TDM) WBL Consultancy

CP Foods (UK) Ltd
CP Foods (UK) Ltd are committed to providing excellence in their apprenticeship delivery, covering many different areas of their business. The company decided to invest in apprenticeships not only to assist with succession planning, recognising that new ideas and a modern approach will change the status quo, but also because they are truly passionate about supporting and progressing the younger generation.  The success of the approach to apprenticeships is clearly apparent as all individuals have progressed through promotion into permanent job roles within the business.  Due to the success of their apprenticeship programme to date, their Board of Directors plan to roll out the programme across the UK group. To demonstrate further commitment, they have now volunteered as Enterprise Advisers to support local schools, taking the opportunity to influence young people at a critical decision making time in their lives and fully promote the apprenticeship route.

GT Access Ltd
GT Access have made apprenticeships a key part of their recruitment strategy. They have found that the apprenticeship route has been a really positive way to build skills and capacity to meet the changing needs of their business. GT Access believes they have a great track record with apprentices both completing their apprenticeships and gaining qualifications.  Their retention rate is over 95% which they believe says a lot about the quality of the apprenticeship programme they run.  Moving forward they plan to invest further in their apprenticeship programme and ensure apprenticeships are a great way to “learn whilst doing” – benefitting both the apprentice and the organisation.

Heller Machine Tools
Heller Machine Tools are highly committed to the recruitment and training of apprentices. The company view apprenticeships as a short term approach for ensuring long term continuity of personnel and development within the manufacturing industry.  The apprenticeship scheme is an excellent way of encouraging young people to believe in their own abilities and to nurture that confidence to achieve a successful engineering qualification upon which to build. Currently four of the Heller management team have come through the apprenticeship programme and they see this as the ideal route to develop their workforce of the future. Their apprenticeship progressions have enabled the company to maintain a young, dynamic modern approach to engineering. Heller are also actively involved within the Enterprise Adviser network, linking schools to businesses and continue to be very proactive with our local schools, supporting the delivery of careers advice and guidance.

Finalists of Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Sanctuary Group

Amada UK
At present Amada employs 13 apprentices offering Engineering and Accountancy schemes. This programme is being expanded to add a further 4 engineering apprenticeships and for the first time, a business Administration Apprenticeship. The Amada apprenticeship programme centres on the philosophy of “promotion within” and growing its own talent pool of well trained, professional Engineering, Accountancy and Administration staff. The success of each of Amada’s programmes is measured by the offer of permanent employment at the end of the scheme.  Amada is proud to confirm that it has employed 100% of its graduated apprentices. Amada does not see its Apprenticeship programme as complete – it is constantly reviewing and developing the scheme to meet the ever changing needs of the industry, the business and the individuals.

Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust provide a wide range of community and mental health services across the county. The trust has a well-established apprenticeship programme which has been in place since 2009. This has ensured that apprenticeships are embedded across the organisation with managers harnessing the development opportunities for staff. Through their talent for Care “Get in, Get on, Go Further” programme they have pledged to provide great opportunities for people to start their career with the trust and improve education, training, and development for all staff working in support roles. Over the coming year the trust will be expanding their programme and signing onto new apprenticeship frameworks including maintenance, catering and housekeeping.

Southco Manufacturing Limited
Southco has a well-established 3 year apprenticeship programme which initially focused on manufacturing engineering, tool making, cold forming and maintenance. Southco decided to invest in their apprenticeship programme to counter the skills shortages within the manufacturing sector and look to plug the gap in the number of school leavers choosing engineering as a career pathway. Over the past 2 years they have committed to developing a focused apprenticeship programme and ensuring they create a pipeline of their own engineers who are loyal, engaged, and have the right skills and behaviours to deliver high quality products and services to their customers. This programme has now formed part of Southco’s global objective focused on people development and talent acquisition.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know that Worcestershire’s Apprenticeship employers go to great lengths to support the younger generation to learn and excel in the world of work, and to provide them with the opportunities to achieve their ambitions. I look forward to meeting with all employer finalists as part of a record audience at this year’s awards.

Cllr Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education and Skills at Worcestershire County Council, added: With the support of Worcestershire’s fantastic apprenticeship employers, we are continuing to see the county’s local apprentices go from strength to strength. I look forward to celebrating the successes of all apprenticeship employers and I would urge all local business to consider the benefits of hiring an apprentice.”

The evening will culminate in the two overall awards from all other winners: Worcestershire Apprenticeship Employer of the Year award sponsored by Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd and the Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year award sponsored by Worcester Bosch Group.

For a full list of finalists for this year’s awards and for more information on employing an apprentice, visit the Worcestershire Apprenticeships website.